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13-mile route perfect for cool-weather ride and beginners looking to build up mileage

When temperatures are cool during early spring, bicycling routes that offer flat rides help cyclists produce a smooth, consistent pedal cadence. Flat routes are also easier on the leg muscles when it's cool.

This week's 13-mile route would be an excellent choice for beginning road cyclists wanting to increase their distance and improve their cycling skills without punishing themselves in the hills. It is also a good route for seasoned riders wanting a short, flat route to develop a good riding tempo or who are looking for a short ride after work.

The ride starts at the south Medford Fred Meyer Complex and proceeds south on Center Drive, passing the Rogue Federal Credit Union, then turning right on Belknap Road. Proceed across South Pacific Highway 99 and the railroad tracks onto Garfield Road, heading west. You will soon pass the south end of Stewart Meadows Golf Course on the right. After crossing Whitman Avenue, Kings Highway, and South Peach Street, turn left on South Columbus Avenue (2.25 miles), continuing toward South Stage Road.

Turn right on South Stage Road, right on Griffin Creek Road, then left, back onto South Stage Road (3.1 miles). South Stage Road has wide shoulders which Jackson County sweeps clean from time to time. Turn right on Arnold Lane. At this point you have gained only about 140 feet in elevation (1-percent grade) in four miles. Proceeding north, crossing Bellinger Lane (3.6 miles) and passing by Memory Gardens Cemetery on the right, you'll encounter a nice, straight, slightly downhill stretch of road.

Turn right onto the Jacksonville Highway (7.2 miles). Take a right on Oak Grove Road (8.4 miles). You now have lost all of the elevation gain and are back to your starting elevation. Take a left on West Stewart Avenue (9.2 miles). The road has a slight climb of about 250 feet in elevation over the next 2.5 miles. Turn right on Columbus (10.2 miles) and then left on Garfield. Once on Garfield you have about a 60-foot drop in elevation (1-percent grade) as you cycle back across South Pacific Highway 99 and return to your starting location (approximately 13 miles).

To get the most out of a shorter ride like this one, riders can mix in a series of "intervals" — or short speed bursts — along the straighter stretches. While concentrating on achieving a smooth, consistent pedal motion, pick up the pace for a couple of minutes. Then back off to your normal riding speed. After a minute or two of rest, pick up the pace again for another short burst. Some cyclists like to pick out a point they can see down the road and accelerate to that point, take a short rest, then pick out another target.

Throwing in some quick bursts will build up your leg muscles, elevate your heart rate and improve your wind.

Spring is here. Hop on the bike and enjoy the fresh spring air.

Bicycling enthusiast Bob Korfhage of Phoenix is a former president of Siskiyou Velo bicycle club.